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2017 Glass Slipper Challenge: Princess Half-Marathon.

The last day of the Glass Slipper Challenge (10k recap, 5k recap) is the Princess Half-Marathon. It’s another early day and since I was the only one running the half out of our large group, I got on the bus solo and waited to meet up with Jess and Nicole before heading up to the corrals.

My parents, Justin, and Sue were due to get a bus to Epcot to grab the monorail to Magic Kingdom so I knew they weren’t too far behind me with their wake-up alarm. Unfortunately, there was some misinformation and my family and a few runners missed the last bus and were told the next bus wasn’t until 6am (well after the start of the race). My mom texted me that they weren’t going to be able to make it to Magic Kingdom and I could tell she was upset. I reassured her that it was no big deal and that I’d see them all at the finish line.

About fifteen minutes later I got another text from my mom saying that they’d see me in Magic Kingdom. Wait – what?!

The runners with them decided they were going to walk to the start line and since my family was already up, they decided to tag along. Luckily, Disney magic was on their side because a race bus pulled up alongside them and scooped them up and brought them to Epcot!

Princess Half-Marathon

Our plan for the race was the same as the day before – to run easy and comfortably and stop for photos when there was a character we loved on the course. We also decided that for the latter half of the race, we’d employ an 8-and-2 run/walk plan if we hadn’t stopped for a photo in a while. As I’ve learned before with Disney races, I enjoy the walk “breaks” mostly for their mental benefit.

We didn’t stop for many photos early on but as the race progressed, we stopped more and more. We stopped so much in Magic Kingdom that Mile 6 took us over 30 minutes to complete. #WorthIt

After seeing my family on Main Street and stopping for so many great characters in Magic Kingdom, the lonely roads of the highway seemed to go on and on and onnnn.  Once we got to Mile 10, I began texting my mom from my Apple Watch to let her know where we were and an approximate time we’d be at the finish line.

After our finish, it was time to head back to the hotel to get ready for a day in Epcot!

Epcot

When we first started planning our Disney trip, the dads came up with the idea of getting us all ridiculous matching shirts and decided on, well, hot pink Vandalay Industries t-shirts. Now, let me tell you how 20 Italians from New York ended up in hot pink Vandalay Industries shirts…

My dad found a company online and sent an e-mail to each family to order their shirts. Well, everyone ordered their shirts on the same day and the company (which is extremely small and later told us that they barely sell that many of those shirts in a year, let alone in a single day) cancelled all our orders stating that we were “fraudulent.” LOL. #irony

Obviously, we got it all sorted out and everyone had their shirts for Epcot day! We realized very quickly that we should have done something like this the previous two days as it was so much easier to find everyone with us all in the same obnoxiously loud color. #LessonLearned

We were quite the hit in Epcot; people came up to talk to us and took photos of/with us. We overheard a conversation between a mother and a daughter in which the daughter asked why we all matched and the mother answered that we must be here on a company trip because we all worked for Vandalay Industries. #AwHoney

After the fireworks, it was time to go back to the hotel and relax.

The next day, we all hung out at the pool to enjoy one more day of sunshine before coming back to cold NYC.

It wasn’t easy to leave… especially since this is the first Disney trip in a while that I’ve ended without having my next one already planned 🙁

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Next up: I’ll be carb-loading at my wedding. True story. Stay tuned. 

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2017 Disney Princess Weekend: 5k.

Let’s not even talk about how long it’s been since I last posted. Instead, let’s talk about the 2017 Disney Princess 5k!

The family all got to Disney Thursday morning so we could get to the expo, check in at the hotel, and then head out for an early dinner in Disney Springs. Because we were such a large party, runDisney helped us out with the hotel booking so we were all in a block of rooms and it felt like we had our own little corner of the hotel to ourselves.

After dinner at The Boathouse, I was on a mission to find Bride ears (did I mention I’m getting married? Because yea, I’m getting married. This September, specifically).

Surprise! – Jane’s Carousel, Brooklyn

Engagement Dinner – River Cafe, Brooklyn

I found the ears no problem (Justin got groom ears and he’s agreed to take some formal engagement photos in them sooo stay tuned for those).  🙂

Princess 5k

Pre-Princess 5k Family Photo

Once our large group got into the corrals, we split up by pace. We had a few who were running the whole thing, some who were going to run/walk, and others who planned to walk to the finish line. Like last year, Justin and I stayed with my dad for the 5k. The 5k isn’t timed and my father doesn’t have a running watch so I ran alongside him so we had an accurate finish time and pace.

Since my father uses this as a “goal race,” we didn’t stop for any character photos. Last year, he ran a 13:11 pace with no stopping (except for one wardrobe malfunction – he couldn’t get his throwaway pants off lol). When he ran his 3 mile training run the weekend prior, I ran alongside him to check his pace and he finished the 3 miles at a 12:40. He does all his training at a 14+ minute pace so this shocked him – isn’t it amazing what your body can do when you just listen to it?!

We finished in 38:35 (a 12:23 pace!) and a new PR for pops!

We grabbed our medals and our goodies and waited for the rest of the family to cross the finish line.

It was the first 5k for a lot of the family and they all did AMAZING! Everyone finished with a smile (except for lil’ Andrew but he’s 7, has little legs, and omg if someone tried to make me do anything like this at 7, I’d have thrown a complete hissy fit). No worries though – he recovered quickly and then became obsessed with all my medals the rest of the trip 🙂

Hollywood Studios

Once we were all showered and rested (ehhhh slightly rested), we were on our way to Hollywood Studios!

19 Italians take Disney! (#20 came on Saturday)

The weather was amazing and we spent the morning going on rides and enjoying some shows before lunching at Brown Derby. This is always one of my favorite meals at Disney and I cannot recommend it enough (the cobb salad is incredible and I’ve been told the crabcakes are as well).

In addition, they have a special 3-course option that comes with fastpasses to Fantasmic! My brother’s reactions to this show are more fit for an 8 year old than someone who is, ya know, an adult, but it really is so good. I’ve gotten choked up during the finale each and every time I’ve seen it and, in my brother’s words, it “always gets me.” #RightInTheFeels

Hollywood Studios had special magic hours for hotel guests on Friday so we didn’t worry too much about trying to fit in all the rides before the park closed at 8pm. Since we had an extra 2 hours to go on rides, we saved some of the longer line rides (like Rockin’ Rollercoaster) to the end of the night.

Some fairy dust before the 10k!

Once we got back to the hotel, Justin and I were quick to get our stuff out for the morning and go to bed- it was almost Enchanted 10k time!

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Congrats to all Princess 5k finishers! Especially my dad, mom, Justin, John, Nicole, Jim, Uncle Vito, Aunt Marisa, Matt, Uncle Andrew, Aunt Lidia, Amanda, and little Andrew! So proud of you all!

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Epcot International Food and Wine Festival.

When I told Justin that I wanted to go back to Disney World in September, one of the biggest points I made (errrr maybe the only point I had to make) was that the timing would coincide with Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival. No joke, he got into bed one night and showed me the map he had made of Epcot, including the location of the stands he wanted to hit and exactly what he wanted to buy at each spot. I’m pretty sure he also made an Excel spreadsheet. #thatsmyboy

Before heading to the park and stuffing our faces with deliciousness, we set out on an easy run around the Grand Floridian and Polynesian resorts.

Grand Floridian from lagoon running path

Grand Floridian from lagoon running path

The plan then was to spend the rest of the morning at the front of the park going on rides before heading to World Showcase for the remainder of the day and night. We were able to ride the new Soarin’ Around the World, Living with the Land, Test Track, and Ellen’s Great Energy Adventure before heading over to the Italy pavilion’s Via Napoli for lunch.

Epcot's Food and Wine Festival

Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival

The pizza (and sangria omg the sangria) at Via Napoli is incredible so we didn’t want to pass up a chance to indulge ourselves. We figured we’d have salad and pizza for lunch and then snack around the world for dinner.

After lunch, we had FastPass reservations for Frozen Ever After in the Norway pavilion. Because of FastPass grouping, we had to choose between FastPasses for Frozen or for Soarin’ and Test Track. We elected to grab the FastPasses for Frozen and just hit Soarin’ and Test Track early.

If you’re heading to Epcot and are choosing FastPasses, I’d pick Frozen Ever after because the Soarin’ and Test Track standby lines were not bad and the Frozen Ever After standby line was absolutely insane.

Also, I just want to take a minute to talk about HOW UNBELIEVABLY AMAZING Frozen Ever After is. While it is no secret that I love Frozen and all things Olaf, I really loved the Maelstrom ride and was upset to learn that it would be no more. Disney did an unbelievable job with the Frozen ride and the technology used for the characters is incredible. The movements are so real and lifelike that you almost believe you are in the movie. Both Justin and I were very impressed.

Romantic stroll (ehh stumble)

Romantic stroll (ehh stumble)

After enjoying the Frozen ride, I was in the mood for a frozen treat (see what I did there? bahaha). Dole Whip with coconut rum was high on my list of “must-haves” for the day and it did not disappoint. This may most definitely will be a treat I have to enjoy again when we go back in February for Princess Weekend.

Dole Whip and coconut rum!

Dole Whip and coconut rum!

Later in the day, because it’s Florida in September, the skies went from blue and cloudless to dark and ominous in roughly 3.7 seconds. We waited out the storm in the Disney and Pixar Short Film Festival before running through the rain (in our ponchos – these are a vital item on all Florida vacations) to Spaceship Earth. Luckily, once we left Spaceship Earth, the rain had stopped and we were able to walk around and enjoy the remainder of the World Showcase. We kept our ponchos on, though, just in case. #FloridaProblems

After a long day of running/walking around, eating and drinking, we were ready to head back to the hotel to get some solid sleep. We had a long (and magical!) day in Magic Kingdom ahead of us 🙂

Epcot - Spaceship Earth

Epcot – Spaceship Earth

This was my first time at Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival but it will definitely not be my last. I liked going in September because the festival had just opened and the crowds weren’t all that huge yet. Next year, Justin and I plan to run the Wine and Dine Half-Marathon so we’ll be back for Food and Wine but expect the crowds to be much larger.

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Next up: Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party.

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Halloween at Disney World: Animal Kingdom & Hollywood Studios.

Halloween at Disney World actually got me in a festive Halloween mood. It probably helps that September in Orlando is 90 degrees with humidity and it still feels like summer, but nevertheless, one of my least favorite holidays (because I legitimately mourn the end of summer) became something I enjoyed this past week.

Wanting to get the most out of my annual pass, Justin and I booked a fall getaway to Disney (my 3rd Disney trip of 2016 – January, February) to attend a Magic Kingdom ticketed event (Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party) and enjoy Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival. September is a great time to visit Disney as it is considered a low season. Kids have gone back to school, there is a chance of thunderstorms every afternoon (bring a poncho, it ain’t no thang), and the Halloween/Food and Wine crowds are still light.

Last Saturday morning, we sacrificed sleep and got on a plane that left before sunrise. #WorthIt

I don't hate this

I don’t hate this

We landed in Orlando a little after 8, dropped our bags off at the Grand Floridian, and left for Animal Kingdom to get a full day in the park.

Animal Kingdom

Saturday was H-O-T hot. We eased our pain by walking in and out of shops throughout the day and taking in a showing of The Festival of the Lion King.

While on the subject of pain, I had been suffering from an allergic reaction from my knees to my toes (both legs) and Saturday it got so bad that I ended up in First Aid. My doctor called in a couple of prescriptions for me and they were delivered to my hotel Sunday morning. The local pharmacist was extremely helpful; he spoke to me about the claim process with my insurance company and he sent along all the necessary paperwork. Disney made this process super easy and I’m so thankful because I was actually able to enjoy the rest of my trip. #DisneyWinsAgain

animal-kingdom-day

I haven’t been to Animal Kingdom since they began nighttime hours so I was excited to catch a sunset Kilimanjaro Safari (amazing) and experience the Tree of Life show (SO GOOD). The crowd was oohing and aahing before the projection show officially began whenever one of the animals on the tree would move.  Our bus driver back to the hotel told us that there are multiple projections so on any given night or time, you may catch a slightly different one.

Tree of Life - Animal Kingdom, WDW

Tree of Life – Animal Kingdom, WDW

When we got back to the room, we were hangry, tired, and cranky but all that disappeared when we walked into our room and saw the view from our balcony:

Cinderella's Castle from Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

Cinderella’s Castle from Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

After I stopped freaking out over the view, we grabbed a late dinner at Grand Floridian’s 24-hour dining restaurant, Gasparilla Island Grill. I got something called the “Idaho Dog” after joking with a couple castmembers about how silly it sounded but how good it actually tasted. In case you haven’t guessed it, it’s a hotdog in a baked potato… and it was all sorts of awesome. I kid you not.

Hollywood Studios

Before heading to Hollywood Studios for the day, we brunched at Grand Floridian’s Narcoossee’s. Oh boy is this food delicious. Also, the mimosas are incredible and I dubbed them “the greatest mimosas I have ever had in my life.” Must be those Florida oranges, eh?

With full bellies and light wallets (magic bands?), we got on a bus to Hollywood Studios with just enough time to get to our first FastPass of the day: Toy Story Midway Mania. With the new tracks on the ride, the standby time is significantly reduced. Good to know for future Hollywood Studios adventuring!

hollywood-studios

It felt like our time at Hollywood Studios flew by and before we knew it, we were exiting with thousands of others as they closed the park for the night.

Sunday night was a Halloween Party so we parked ourselves on our balcony to watch the Hallowishes fireworks.

Fireworks view from Grand Floridian

Fireworks view from Grand Floridian

Watching the finale from this spot was incredible and it got me even more excited for our very own Halloween Party on Tuesday.

Spoiler alert: I was still not prepared for the finale in front of the castle.

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NEXT UP: Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival and a morning in the Magic Kingdom. 

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